Consideration in the Short: Humanism and Freethought

Scott Douglas Jacobsen
4 min readFeb 20, 2024

What makes a humanist? Is it a commitment to freedom above all other values? That sounds like a libertarian. It gets close with a focus on individual responsibility to carve one’s life. Is it a commitment to the freedom of speech as a free speech warrior? That sounds like a one-dimensional free-speech advocate. It gets closer because the core idea of freedom: the ability to think it, then speak it.

Central to humanism is the concept of freedom, a multifaceted principle underscoring the capacity of individuals to forge life as they see fit balanced with the same rights for others. In the humanist view, freedom encompasses the liberty to think, question, and express oneself openly, fostering an environment where critical thinking and rational debate flourish.

The use of cancellation as in cancel culture is less an act and more public penalty culture. I do not mean a justifiable cancellation in any particular instance or a culture, or cancellation in completion for that matter. I aim more towards understanding. The left and the right undergo this. Amber Bracken is a leftwing journalist who has been cancelled. Lindsay Shepherd is a rightwing journalist who has been cancelled.

I have been cancelled from several publications, boards, and professional relationships from conservative, religious, and patriarchal institutions, groups, and individuals. My orientation tends towards the self-governance, self-management of the Native Americans seen before colonization with the implementation of more advanced communications technologies seen now. Something related to democratic socialism or libertarian socialism, libertarian-syndicalism, anarcho-syndicalism, but distinct.

Is it leftwing, centrist, or rightwing? All wings of the same bird to me.

Americans have admirably protected free speech to a high degree. Satire is a protected right in the United States. ‘My’ problems arose in secular writing in 2016/17 for Conatus News. Based on experience rather a stereotype, a statistical generalization, the ‘thinner skins’ of individuals come, more often, from these demographics: over 40 years old, European heritage, North American culture, conservative, and often religious tending towards the Christian (Protestant sect). Let’s take a recent case study example: a satire about my hometown, Fort Langley.

A bunch of dads’ representatives, for 27 of them from my hometown, read a satirical article about them, by me, as literal. “That’s your problem, right there.” People have the right feel what they feel, to say what they want as an expression of that.

Do they have the right to shut someone down? It depends. These men from a conservative town did try to cancel me. Their misreading, somehow, became my fault. That’s odd.

So, they went to several listed professional associations to defame me — without CCing me. If any defamation in a satirical context, it seems less serious, certainly, than actual defamation to employers in a non-comedic situations. You see the issue. It was a circumlocution for reputational damage. Others have done this before.

There can be public forms of this. However, typically, it gets laughed off. One can see this in the case of Andrew Copson and company being called demonic and debauched on live television in Britain. Such naughty lads!

The idiotic thing, though, the sending of the correspondence in the first place. These come to me as the bullet from these pee-shooters. It’s pretty extraordinary and cowardly. Again, men of the above types of demographics in part. This is neither the first time nor the second time.

Ever since the writing became international, some have destroyed several professional relationships over articles written about them. I’ve succeeded in spite of them. But it’s real.

Older men from the 70s down to early middle age harassing and defaming a person in his 20s, now 30s. Unsure if they will continue, after forcing them to communicate with me directly. Yet, that’s not how this works. They direct private correspondence of no particular note to those professional associations again. This is intimidation to cancel after direct defamation did not work. It is not clever. But it is once in a blue moon effective, so used.

After some correspondence and as a courtesy, I chose to take down the article respect these 27 dads’ feelings, in the end. While, ironic, it was only 1 article out of hundreds in one outlet alone. Also, a woman dissenter in the town to these dads, in the satire and in the actual news articles, has been harassed. She is a lawyer. Same with her law firm. This is small-town petty politics. Men trying to be petty potentates.

I am not a victim here. I do not take myself as a victim ever. I see this as victimization of me, but I do not see a need to carry this as a marker of identity. Does that make sense?

How is humanism and freedom relevant here?

Humanism advocates for the freedom from dogma, superstition, and unfounded authority, promoting a worldview based on reason, science, and evidence. Our freedom involves the recognition of our shared human condition.

It is about the pursuit of knowledge, understanding, and empathy. We form our actions and make moral choices. These are the basis for personal fulfillment and happiness. A subtle, profound balance struck between individual freedom and social responsibility.

As I can assure you, we face intolerance, inequality, and injustice. Our lives are difficult because the world is harsh. We can construct a world in which individuals can live authentically. When facing persecution from elders, from illegitimate authority, from patriarchal institutional challenges, from self-doubt, we can rest on freedom in humanist values. That realization of freedom, which we simply call humanist as we experience it.

Which is to say, I’m free; if not already, you can be too.

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Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight Publishing. Jacobsen supports science and human rights. Website: www.in-sightpublishing.com